Dow drops nearly 300 points on Friday, snaps 3-week winning streak

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U.S. stocks fell on Friday, pushing the Dow Jones Industrials Average into the red for the week, as inflation fears overshadowed strong retail sales numbers and better-than-expected earnings reports.

The Dow lost 299.17 points, or 0.86%, to close at 34,687.85. The S&P 500 dipped 0.75% to 4,327.16 and the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.8% to 14,427.24.

The three averages closed the week lower to each snap 3-week win streaks. The Dow ended the week down 0.52%, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.97% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.87% during the same period.

A U.S. consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan came in at 80.8 for the first half of July, down from 85.5 last month and worse than estimates from economists, who projected an increase. The report released Friday showed inflation expectations rising, with consumers believing prices will increase 4.8% in the next year, the highest level since August 2008.

The Dow gave up its gains early Friday shortly after the University of Michigan report came out 30 minutes into the session. Losses increased as the day went on with major averages closing at the lows of the session.

The consumer sentiment weakness “is at face value hard to square with the acceleration in employment growth and the continued resilience of the stock market,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, but the report “suggested that concerns over surging inflation are now outweighing those positive trends.”

Inflation fears

Energy correction

Energy stocks, the hottest part of the market in 2021, fell into correction territory on Friday as oil prices pulled back from their highs. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund fell 2.97% on Friday, the worst of any group, bringing its losses from its high to 14.18%. Still, the sector is up about 28% in 2021, making it the top performer of any of the 11 main industry groups.

Weaker performance from technology stocks also weighed on the market Friday. Shares of Netflix fell ahead of the streaming giant’s second-quarter earnings report next week. Nvidia shares also dropped.

Investors digested strong earnings results from the first major week of second-quarter reports. Though some of the nation’s largest companies posted healthy earnings and revenues amid the economic recovery, the reaction in the stock market has so far been muted.

“Lately, you can almost guess where stocks are going by just checking the 10-year Treasury yield, which often moves based on perceptions of what the Fed might have up its sleeve,” said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade chief market strategist. “Earnings absolutely matter, but in the short term, the Fed is still the girl everyone wants to dance with.”

“Good earnings might have become an excuse for some investors to take profit. And with earnings expectations so high in general, it takes a really big beat for a company to impress,” Kinahan added.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund ended the week 1.5% lower despite big profit growth numbers posted by the likes of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

Much of the market’s upward pressure over the last week has come from a handful of mega-cap internet and communications stocks. Apple and Google-parent Alphabet ended the week in the green.

— CNBC’s Maggie Fitzgerald and Michael Bloom contributed reporting.

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